Mia with her parents Ruben and Laura Leon
By Pablo Di Maria
Being part of the Northview High School varsity wrestling team, situated in Covina, California, is an accomplishment by itself. The Vikings have been a powerhouse in the Southern Section and in the CIF state tournament since the sport of women’s wrestling was sanctioned in California in 2010. Since 2010, Northview has finished top 10 in the team standings every year, and won the state tournament for the first time in 2013. I had the opportunity to speak with one of their top girls in the middle weights, Mia Leon, about her wrestling accomplishments and her love for the sport of wrestling.
Northview wresting team accomplishments in the CIF state tournament
2015-2nd, 2014-2nd, 2013-1st, 2012-2nd, 2011-3rd, 2010-7th
TWC-Mia, how where you first introduce to the sport of wrestling?
Mia – I was first introduced to the sport of wrestling my freshman year at Gabrielino High School. At the time, I was in a soccer conditioning class and it was merged with the wrestling conditioning class because there was just a handful of wrestlers so we’d go and lift weights together. They (fellow students) began speaking about how I should try wrestling and how much fun it was. I’ve never even heard of wrestling until then, especially women’s wrestling, so I laughed and said no. Eventually, they convinced me to go to a night practice, and I’ve been wrestling ever since.
TCW- Is wrestling mentally challenging or physically challenging or both?
Mia – Wrestling is definitely both physically and mentally challenging. Especially when it comes to pushing yourself and your partner to the limit. Before each other’s matches, I and my practice partner would tell each other “If you don’t kick her butt, I’ll kick yours”. Practicing long and hard every day really does begin to put a strain on your whole body, but you have to be mentally strong to keep on persevering and obtain your goals.
TCW-Do you believe that female athletes are treated equally as their counterparts when it comes to the sport of wrestling?
Mia – At Northview the coaches and our alumni support the team and treat us just like the boy’s wrestling team. They hold us to the same high standards and expectations.
TCW-How intense are the practices at Northview with so much high school talent in the room?
Mia – The practices at Northview are extremely demanding and intense. Our coaches are so amazing, and the girls in there are so determined. We bring the best out of each other in practice, “Iron sharpens iron,” and I’ve experienced the delight of having great drilling partners like Katie Auxier, Daisy Velasquez, and Candy Molina.
TCW-What are you presently doing to improve your technique and gain a state title next year?
Mia – Right now I’m trying to get as much mat time in as possible with anyone that’ll wrestle me, guy or girl. Even if it means getting my butt handed to me a couple of times. Concentrating on the basics and perfecting the little matters are huge right now, I’d rather perfect four moves than learn twenty new ones.
TCW-Are you planning on competing in college? And if so, are you being recruited at the moment?
Mia – I definitely plan on competing in college and I am extremely excited to move on to that new level of wrestling. I’ve been in touch with a few college coaches, but nothing’s for sure yet, I’m still researching my options.
TCW-What makes California such a tough state when it comes to women’s wrestling?
Mia – I believe it is our technique and great mat awareness. Here in California we tend to be more aggressive and be in your face the entire wrestling match. Also, our great coaches. We have many quality coaches that started in the high school level and now are coaching in the WCWA like Travis Mercado at King University and Donnie Stephens at the University of the Cumberland’s.
TCW- Who has been your toughest opponent in high school?
Mia – My toughest opponent in high school would have to be Angelica Ochoa (Sierra Vista High School), we’ve had close matches, and others where she just straight out beat me. She’s talented and a great sport, I hope to wrestle her again in college.
TCW- What are your future endeavors on the mat and in life?
Mia – I plan on wrestling throughout college while majoring in child psychology. After graduating from college, I’d like to come back and work in Covina, and help coach part time the girls’ team at Northview.
TCW-Would you like to mention something unique about you that people don’t know?
Mia – A lot of people don’t know this, but I’m ready to come clean, hopefully, this will help others talk about their own experiences. I’m deathly afraid of butterflies, I have no idea why, but ever since I could remember, they would always give me the creeps. Even to this day I the 5’9, 150-pound wrestler, can’t even go near one.
By Pablo Di Maria
Placentia, California – For the majority of Americans, Memorial Day is a special occasion to honor our fallen heroes that have lost their lives in combat. Numerous households will be filled with barbeques, family gatherings, picnics. . . And also the occasion to get away from the normal monotonous of the work week. For others, it’s the start of summer, a time to look towards the pleasant days in sunny Southern California.
However, for those hardcore wrestling fans in the state of California, it is a three-day weekend to relax and enjoy high school and middle school wrestling at El Dorado High School.
Host school El Dorado High School will be hosting the sixth annual SCWAY America’s Cup from May 23-24. The 12 team dual meet tournament includes wrestlers from the state of Idaho and local talent from all over California. The America’s Cup looks to showcase talented competitors; some of the wrestlers have major credentials like being Fargo All-Americans, Flo Nationals place winners, NHSCA place winners or being state champions in their respective state.
Team Idaho won this event last year by defeating an all-star squad from California, 28-27. That loss is still engraved in the minds of many California fans that are optimistic that this year’s team will bring back the title to the Golden State.
“Last year’s lost to Idaho was unexpected.” Said wrestling fan Joe Martinez “But that’s what I love about the SCWAY organization, they bring the best kids to our state and we must step up and accept the challenge. In this type of events, all egos must be thrown out the window and be ready to wrestle. There is no easy matches here.”
Obviously, is not guarantee that the teams from California will be the favorites to defeat Team Idaho this weekend; team “A” from Idaho will come in full thrust with their top stars to reclaim their title. All but three wrestlers from team Idaho were state champions in the biggest state classification in their respective state.
A mixture of wrestlers from some of the top-notch schools in the Golden State like Clovis, Buchanan, Poway, Rancho Bernardo, Pitman, Oakdale, Modesto and many Southern California teams will be in attendance.
Sunday is expected to be filled with some of the top middle school wrestlers that the state of California has to offer.
Action is expected to begin at 8 A.M and be concluded by 3 P.M. both Saturday and Sunday.
Wrestlers Committed to wrestler in college that will be wrestling this weekend:
120 lbs. Dorian Sapien from Borah, ID. – Clackamas Community College (NJCAA)
126 lbs. Drake Foster from Post Falls, ID. – University of Wyoming (Div. I)
131 lbs. Justin Mejia from Clovis High School – University of Iowa’ 17 (Div. I)
152 lbs. Taylor Owens from Borah, ID. – Boise State (Div. I)
152 lbs. Nigel Ruiz from Bishop Amat High School – Army (Div. I)
165 lbs. Kenneth Moore from Hoover High School – Grand Canyon University (Div. I)
182 lbs. Seth McLeod from Post Falls, ID. – Boise State (Div. I)
182 lbs. Josh Hokit from Clovis High School – Drexel’16 (Div. I)
195 lbs. John Hensley from Meridian, ID. – Boise State (Div. I)
And many more whose names weren’t given at the time of writing this article.
*Disclaimer – teams or individuals may or may not wrestle in the event. Unfortunately, many circumstances may occur that could stop teams and or individuals from attending the event.
Kenneth Moore with his CIF state bracket inside Rabobank Arena
By Pablo Di Maria
San Diego, CA – The future looks bright for Coach Jon Sioredas and coaching staff in the middle weights for Grand Canyon University after the acquisition of Hoover High, Kenneth Moore. A very talented and charismatic wrestler on and off the wrestling mats, Kenneth will become the first member of his family to attend a 4-year institution.
“I can’t wait to attend GCU and become a future National Champion and get my degree in Kinesiology.” Said Kenneth “I really hope to become a trainer or physical therapist after my wrestling days are over.”
Kenneth made history this season for Hoover High School by becoming the school’s first ever state medal winner. He also became the fifth San Diego Section City wrestler to place at the CIF California state tournament since 2004. Nevertheless, his first love entering high school wasn’t the sport of wrestling, his heart belonged to the sport of Football. As a sophomore, he made the varsity squad as an outside linebacker, but his success on the mats made him trade in his cleats and helmet for wrestling shoes and a headgear.
“It was a tough decision, but till this day I don’t regret doing that.”
Kenneth finished top 12 in the state tournament as a junior after placing 2nd in the San Diego Section at 160 pounds. His achievements as a junior didn’t go unnoticed as many colleges like the University of Wyoming, Cal State Bakersfield, Cal Poly and many smaller colleges were eager to obtain his services in college.
“When I first met Coaches Sioredas, Stith and Ellis at Reno TOC after my semifinals match, they were very humorous and fun to be around and talk to. However, I also got the impression that they were determined to rebuild GCU and become a powerhouse in college wrestling. The coaches were completely honest with me and told me the amount of work it would require to acquire my goal of becoming a D1 National Champion. GCU felt like home more than any other college and with the scholarship they offered me it made my offer so much easier.”
Kenneth placed fourth in the state of California at 160 pounds and beat many talented wrestlers along the way; he will be expected to compete in the 165-pound weight class in college. His road to securing the spot at 165 pounds at GCU will begin by challenging a 4-time Washington State champion (Bobby Reese) and Three-time Washington state medal winner (Casey Larson).
Kenneth knows it will be a hard challenge to experience the same success as he had in high school. Nevertheless, with his dedication and loyalty to the sport of wrestling, the sky is the limit for the San Diego wrestler.
Kenneth wrestling Sam Loera from Bakersfield in the CIF state tournament
2015 ASICS ALL-AMERICANS – CALIFORNIA
106 – Cade Olivas – St. John Bosco (S) FIRST TEAM
182 – Zahid Valencia – St. John Bosco (S) FIRST TEAM
170 – Anthony Valencia – St. John Bosco (S) SECOND TEAM
113 – Justin Mejia – Clovis (C) THIRD TEAM
126 – Israel Saavedra – Modesto (SJ) Honorable Mention
California ASICS All-Americans since 1986
Andrew Tausch in the center holding the team trophy
By Pablo Di Maria
Poway, CA. – Fresh of a stellar career at Poway high School, 2015 state place winner Andrew Tausch, has decided to attend and wrestle for Coach Josh Rhoden at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City, Oregon.
Tausch, a three-time CIF state qualifier, finished the postseason with a second place finished at the San Diego Masters, and sixth at the state tournament to help the Titans take second as a team in the state tournament.
“Not everyone gets the opportunity to compete in college. I feel very blessed to get the opportunity to attend CCC as they got a great wrestling program.” Said Andrew “I truly love the campus and the way they work hard to be contenders every year for the NJCAA title.”
The Clackamas wrestling coaches have a strong recruiting pipeline in the state of California. Their roster has numerous athletes from the Golden State and surrounding state’s; many of their wrestlers go on to compete in the Division I and II level after finishing their schooling at CCC.
“I plan to study fitness technology at CCC, and then transfer to the University of Iowa and compete for the Hawkeyes.”
The Poway Titans, coached by California Hall of Fame member, Wayne Branstetter, are usually state contenders every season with all the great talent they have in the wrestling room. Many of their wrestlers go on to have great college careers.
“Wrestling at Poway was a blessing, God put me in that location for a cause. It feels amazing to be a part of one of the best teams in the state of California and in the country.”
The Cougars of Clackamas Community College finished second in the 2015 NJCAA Individual tournament, but won their second consecutive back-to-back NJCAA National Team Duals.
By Pablo Di Maria
New York City, N.Y. – Home to the Empire State Building, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park and other iconic sites, New York City packs more famous attractions into one densely populated area than any other place on Earth.
Thursday afternoon, the organization “Beat the Streets” with the help of Flowrestling will showcase the event “live” via stream between the United States and Cuba. This dual meet will be a first for the two Olympic powers competing on U.S. soil since diplomatic relations between the two nations have recently been restored.
Last year the United States defeated a squad formed of international All-Stars, 8-3. All athletes participating in the dual-meet, both male and female, are Olympic hopefuls from their respective countries. However, a match many devotees to the sport of wrestling have been anticipating will be between 3-time Division II National Champion Joey Davis (Notre Dame College) and 2-time Division I National Champion Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State.
Joey Davis, Jr. (aka, Ice Man), a native of Southern California will enter this event as the lone representative from the Golden State. The match between Davis and Dieringer will be a “challenge” match that will pit the two most dominant collegiate wrestlers at this time.
The Notre Dame junior won his third NCAA Division II title last season and ran his record to an amazing 110-0. Meanwhile, the junior from Oklahoma State has medaled in the Division I level three times and has won the tournament twice in his collegiate career.
This match will be wrestled under freestyle rules; a style that gives Dieringer an edge over Davis. The Oklahoma State Cowboy has represented the United States at the Junior World Championships twice. In his first attempt at a Junior World Championship in 2012 he won the Bronze medal; in 2013 he made the finals of the event, but a loss to the eventual champion Alan Zaseev of Russia.
The “Ice Man” will enter this event as the underdog and in reality has nothing to lose. Many of his critics are skeptical of his wrestling abilities and whether he can compete at the Division I level. This will be his ultimate challenge to show the wrestling community that he is ready to face and wrestle any individual they put in front of him.
Wrestling begins at 4 PM with “Beat the Streets” exhibition matches in Duffy Square at 46th Street followed by the United States versus Cuba at 5:30 PM. Then at 7:30 PM, the annual Gala Celebration will take place at Best Buy Theatre located at 1515 Broadway.
LINE-UPS IN PROJECTED ORDER
69 kg/152 lbs. – Randi Miller (USA) vs. Yudari Sanchez Rodriguez (Cuba)
60 kg/132 lbs. – Rosemary Flores (USA) vs. Yekelin Stornell Elastigue (Cuba)
48 kg/105.5 lbs. – Clarissa Chun (USA) vs. Yusneylis Guzman Lopez (Cuba)
55 kg/121 lbs. – Helen Maroulis (USA) vs. Yamilka Del Valle Alvarez (Cuba)
Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma State) vs. Joey Davis (Notre Dame College)
75 kg/165 lbs. – Andy Bisek (USA) vs. Yurisandi Hernandez Rios (Cuba)
59 kg/130 lbs. – Spenser Mango (USA) vs. Maykel Anache Lamout (Cuba)
125 kg/275 lbs. – Tervel Dlagnev (USA) vs. Andres Ramos Dinza (Cuba)
57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Tony Ramos (USA) vs. Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez (Cuba)
97 kg/213 lbs. – Kyle Snyder (USA) vs. Javier Cortina Lacerra (Cuba)
65 kg/143 lbs. – Brent Metcalf (USA) vs. Franklin Maren Castillo (Cuba)
74 kg/163 lbs. – David Taylor (USA) vs. Livan Lopez Azcuy (Cuba)
86 kg/189 lbs. – Jake Herbert (USA) vs. Reineris Salas Perez (Cuba)
74 kg/163 lbs. – Jordan Burroughs (USA) vs. Luis Esteban Quintana Martinez (Cuba)
CALIFORNIA HIGH SCHOOL ALL-AMERICANS
NHSCA (all levels)
Wrestling USA (Seniors only)
USAW Folkstyle Natonals (Cadet & Junior)
Pablo Di Maria
Irving, Texas – Collegiate wrestler, Marina Doi of Titan Mercury Club, was successful in defending the 44 kg weight class that she won in 2014; her adversary in the finals was her sister (Regina) whom she faced and defeated last year for the title. Due to her success at the Body Bar tournament, Marina will represent team U.S.A at the Junior World Championships in Salvador Da Bahia, Brazil, in July. In 2014, Marina won the Bronze medal in the World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia.
2015 University Nationals Bronze medalist, Forrest Molinari from King University, earned the spot at 67 kilos by defeating Skylar Grote of Blair Academy 5-1 and via a pin in 4:11. In last year Body Bar tournament, Skylar Grote defeated Molinari 7-4 to reach the finals of the tournament.
Simon Fraser University wrestler, Mallory Velte, made her first U.S.A Junior World Team by defeating Alexis Porter of Mckendree University, 3-3 and 6-4. Velte lost her first match to Porter but was successful in her second and third match.
The most outstanding wrestler of the tournament went to the 2014 Junior World Team member Becka Leathers of Gator OKCU Women/Men RTC at 55 kilos. Other wrestlers winning a consecutive UWW Junior title where – Kayla Miracle of Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club at 59 kg and 2013 and 2014 Junior World Team member Cody Pfau of Gator OKCU Women’s RTC at 48 kg.
The Doi sisters and Forrest Molinari were not the only grapplers from the state of California to reach the finals. High School junior, Sariyah Jones from Star Wrestling Club, advance to the finals of the 48 kg weight class, but was easily defeated by a more experienced wrestler in Cody Pfau from Gator OKCU Women/Men RTC via a pin in 48 seconds and a 10-0 technical fall. The native from Parachute, Colorado, was a 2013 and 2014 U.S.A Junior World Team member.
Katerina Lobsinger of Combat sports Academy, also advance to the finals of the tournament at 72 kilos. The 2014 Cadet World Championships representative for team U.S.A, won her first match versus Rachel Watters of Gator OKCU Women/Men RTC 11-9, but couldn’t stop the comeback from Watters as she dropped two consecutive matches, 8-4 and 12-11. In the true second place match, Lobsinger wrestled and lost to the 2014 Junior World Team member and fellow Californian, Kendall Reusing of Titan Mercury Club, via a pin in 1:07.
Other California wrestlers medaling in the Body Bar UWW Junior Division
44 kg: Regina Doi of Titan Mercury Club 2nd
55 kg: Dominick Parrish of Scotts Valley Wrestling Academy 3rd
55 kg: Laylani Allen of Wan-Tu-Wazuri Oakland Youth Wrestling Club 5th
59 kg: Gabrielle Garcia of Titan Mercury Club 5th
59 kg: Berenice Blanco of MBU Wrestling Club 6th
72 kg: Alexandria Glaude of McKendree 4th
By Pablo Di Maria
Irving, Texas – One of the largest and toughest tournament in the nation when it comes to women’s wrestling, crowned 22 individual champions in today’s section of the UWW Cadet and Schoolgirls division. Winning the Outstanding Wrestler was Alexis Bleau of Journeymen WC of New York who defeated Zoey Thompson of Maui Sports Foundation with two straight pins in their respective match at 70 kilograms.
Three athletes from the Golden State (Martinez, Figueroa, and Borruel) won individual titles today in the UWW Cadet tournament. At 46 kg, freshman sensation, Alleida Martinez from Titan Mercury Club, acquired her first Cadet national title by defeating the two-time Body Bar champion, Sariyah Jones from Star Wrestling Club, 6-0, 1-2, and 3-0. Both athletes met in late March in the semifinal of the 2015 Folkstyle National tournament where Martinez defeated Jones, 2-0.
Martinez high school teammate, Gracie Figueroa, also won an individual title in the 52-kilogram weight class by defeating Colorado’s Kaden Campbell, 4-12, 7-4, and 6-4. Figueroa dropped her first match 12-4 versus Campbell, but rebounded back by winning the next two matches to also claim an individual title. Figueroa was second in both the Junior and Cadet divisions at the 2015 USAW Folkstyle Nationals.
Alexis Boruel of Tokay Wrestling Club won the 84-kilogram weight class by defeating the other four athletes in the round-robin tournament. 2014 World Team member Gabrielle Garcia failed to reach the finals of the 56 kilogram weight class, but finished strong by taking third in her weight class; Garcia will be back in action tomorrow when she competes in the junior division.
The Body Bar Women’s Nationals concludes on Sunday with the UWW Junior division, with World Team spots up for grabs.
Other California athletes placing in the event
43 kg: Abigail Aragon of Stockton Elite Wrestling Club 8th
43 kg: Trina Nguyen of Diamond Ranch Wrestling 8th
46 kg: McKenzie Bacich of Stockton Elite Wrestling Club 5th
49 kg: Tiana Jackson of Star Wrestling 8th
56 kg: Rory Coscia of Star Wrestling 7th
60 kg: Aly Sabbagh of Team Tyus 5th
65 kg: Nonie Reyes-Small of Titan Mercury Wrestling Club 4th
70 kg: Nicole Diaz of Delta Wrestling Club 3rd
70 kg: Madisen Bozovich of Tokay Wrestling Club 6th
78 kg: Alexis Cavero of Tokay Wrestling Club 8th
97 lbs.: Alyssa Valdivia of Elite Force 2nd
97 lbs.: Jenna Bacich of California 5th